Strategies for Effective Networking

Start-Up and Exit

  • Enter with confidence.
  • Approach groups of 3 or more to avoid breaking into personal/intense conversations.
  • Use prepared starter lines (comment on the food, facility, group, traffic).
  • Limit time with one individual to 5-10 minutes (depending upon time of event).
  • Work out a rescue signal with your "networking buddy" so you're never stranded.
  • Use prepared exit-lines. (Excuse me, I have to talk to X, I enjoyed our talk..)
  • Thank the host/hostess before exiting.

Image and Impression

  • RSVP and don't show up without RSVPing.
  • Inquire about dress code and dress to blend in with people attending the event.
  • Place name tag on right hand side so people can read it easily as you shake hands.
  • Shake hands firmly.
  • Stack your napkin, plate, glass and food on one hand so as to keep the other free to greet people.
  • Smile and let people know that you are enjoying the event and their company.
  • Make eye contact and avoid shopping the room as you talk.
  • Nod to let people know you are listening.
  • Listen carefully and illustrate genuine interest.
  • Care about people you meet - make people feel as if you've been waiting all week to meet.
  • Always keep conversation positive, avoiding negative comments (Isn't this room awful).

Conversation

  • Use one-sentence, prepared self-introduction.
  • Introduce (present) a person to the more respected person(commoner to queen, younger to older, junior staff to senior, executive to client -Ms. Wilson, I'd like you to meet (to present) my daughter, Stacie. Stacie this is Ms. Barbara Wilson, president of our company).
  • Demonstrate an interest in current events and talk about an item you've just read about.
  • Ask relevant (but not prying) questions to show interest and keep conversation rolling.
  • Respond by relating a situation to the one just discussed.
  • Use some pre-prepared pleasant self-revelations to help people to get to know you.
  • Focus on making people comfortable and putting them at ease with your small talk.
  • Indicate interest by suggesting dates and times when you would be available to talk more (e.g. when ending conversation with one individual).
  • Make tickler notes on back of people's business cards as soon as you are done with the event.
  • Show honest interest by following through on your promises.
  • Write a thank-you note to the host.

Starting The Conversation:

  • The Honest Approach: Hi, I don't believe we've met. I am X.. I am the meeting manager in the Sales group of XYZ Company. I have been curious to meet you and I'm glad you could make it to tonight's event..
    Hi, I was looking for some one to talk to. Can I join you folks?
  • The Fade-In: I heard you guys talk about xyz.. I recently read this article on XTZ..
  • Flattery Entry:   
    Wrong: Hey, Look at you clothes.. They just look so marvelous.
    Right: I heard laughter from a distance and humor always attracts me.

Tips:

  • Remain calm if others are rude to you.
  • Be conscious of your body language.
  • Don't try to anticipate or control other people's thoughts.
  • Be an active listener.
  • Find out about people attending the event.
  • Make a list of people you'd like to meet.
  • Prepare how you will introduce yourself to them and do a little research about their interests(but don't stalk).
  • Don't be pushy - be gentle and polite.